Your twenties is the perfect time to get serious about developing yourself as an individual and forming the healthy mental and physical habits that will last through the rest of your life. As a twenty-something myself, I’m always looking for new ways to set myself up for a more successful future. Here are 20 habits to adopt in your 20s.
1. If you smoke—quit. The withdrawal won’t be easy, but it’ll be easier now than ten years from now. Smoking still kills over 400,000 people every year in the United States alone, so this is important!
2. Only spend money you have. Credit card debt isn’t worth it, even if you think you’ll be able to make the monthly payments. You never know what can happen, so don’t risk ruining your finances before you really get them off the ground.
3. Get to know yourself. Invest some time into thinking about your values and your personal strengths and weaknesses. Note areas for improvement and make a list of a few ways to pursue them.
4. Take advice from others, but make your own decisions. You’re your own person, and your family and friends can’t live your life for you. It’s important to acknowledge that other people have been in the situations you’re facing, so listen to the things they tell you about their experiences, but remember that you’re ultimately responsible for your own choices.
5. Swap processed junk food for whole foods. Potato chips and Ramen are just empty carbs drenched in sodium. Basing your diet around fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains makes a huge difference in how you feel (and will keep you looking like your 20-something self a lot longer than people who start eating healthy in middle age!).
6. Make friends who push you to be better. The people you spend time with have more of an influence on you than you know—so value friendships where you’re not afraid to be honest with each other.
7. Trade cheap-beer binges for quality drinks. Once you’re out of college, it becomes way less cool to knock back Bud Lites until you can’t remember anything. Alcohol is much better in moderation, and you might even find you like classier drinks like wine (that doesn’t come in a box).
8. Learn to think before you buy. Our desire for instant gratification often causes us to make impulse purchases we don’t really need. If you’re like most twenty-somethings, you should probably delay upgrading your iPhone until you’re sure you can pay the electric bill.
9. Avoid tanning salons (and use sun protection). Fortunately, it seems like the tanning craze has subsided a little in recent years, but enough people still do it that it’s worth mentioning! A temporarily darker skin tone isn’t a good enough reason to risk cancer.
10. Know when to take risks. Practicality is important, but it isn’t everything. Sometimes you just need to say screw it and take the job, move to the new state, travel Europe. As long as you commit to being safe and smart about the risks you take, don’t fear doing something new, scary, and unexpected. If nothing else, it’ll be an experience to remember.